When you initially meet Kristen, your first thought is how sweet she is. Her small frame and young face radiate warmth and kindness. Then you get to know her more and you realize that her softness is combined with an unbelievable strength and courage.
Kristen moved to Victoria from Quesnel to pursue paramedics training. There were other courses on the mainland, outside of her small town, but she decided to go where she had never been before. She knew Victoria was a beautiful place and though she had no friends or family here, she did know this was where she was supposed to go. Tackling life on her own, she jumped head first into the program, loving the training and the people involved.
To understand why she chose to pursue paramedics training, she let me in on a little more of her history. When she was younger, in junior high, she wanted to be a forensic scientist (not your usual middle school dream career). She enjoyed chemistry, though, and a good mystery. Her mother even bought her a forensic science book for dummies, where this pre-teen could learn about blood splattering and how bodies decompose. Again, not your average pre-teen’s booklist.
In high school; however, she switched focus into a radically different field: costume designing. Quite good at sewing and putting together unique ensembles, she looked into schools in Vancouver and worked on different portfolios. She absolutely loves costume designing and is very skilled in the area (I, personally, was able to see her fantastic Effie costume from The Hunger Games) but decided she wanted to do something with a bit more serious impact. So she took some courses in college, including criminology and English and then she worked for a time before switching her focus again into the military. Researching military opportunities, she found the paramedics school where the Army trains their paramedics and began taking the pre-requisites for the program.
Looking back, she realized that all the people she really admired and wanted to be like, were those that heroically take care of other people. She told me that it was as if she always wanted to be in this field but it wasn’t the right time yet. Now, she has finished her paramedics training and is going to pursue nursing school here in Victoria and possibly medical school in the future. She would love to be part of a disaster relief team or in humanitarian work where she can travel around and be there in crisis situations.
As I listened to this amazing woman tell me her story, I thought of the movie “G.I. Jane” (not to be confused with G.I. Joe) over and over again in my mind. Kristen is a small girl with a huge passion, and a huge heart. Her life is her mission, and her mission is to help people when they are in crisis. Like the character G.I. Jane, she is willing to do what many people aren’t, willing to take on intense physical, mental, and emotional challenges and overcoming them fearlessly, but not without sacrifice.
When I asked Kristen what was the best part about her paramedics training, she said, “I think one of the coolest things was during my practicum. You know, it’s hard work and long nights but the thing is, when you show up in an ambulance, people are happy to see you . . . In most cases, people are happy to see you. They’re thankful to see you; they want you to be there. So to kind of walk in and to be that hope for people, and be that safety for people is a really cool thing to experience. To just show up and to have a situation change just because you are there.”
There is no doubt in my mind that situations change when Kristen arrives. Whether it’s her warmth, her courage, or her dedication that she brings, she is a world changer.
If you know someone in Victoria with an inspiring story deserving to be shared, let us know!